Hospital Patients Unlikely to Identify Attending Physicians

Hospitals urged to do more to improve patient understanding of physician names and roles

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Few hospitalized patients are able to correctly identify any of their inpatient physicians, according to a research letter published in the Jan. 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Vineet Arora, M.D., of the University of Chicago, and colleagues surveyed 2,807 adults admitted to the inpatient general medicine service of the University of Chicago between July 2005 and October 2006.

The researchers found that 2,110 patients (75 percent) could not name anyone when asked to identify an inpatient physician in charge of their care. Of the 697 patients who responded with at least one name, 416 (60 percent) answered incorrectly, often naming a specialist or their primary care physician. Patients who could not name an inpatient physician were more likely to be black, older, unmarried, not have a high school diploma, and to have been admitted through a night-float team or emergency department, the investigators found. The researchers also note that 56 percent of patients rated their understanding of the roles of the physicians on their team as "very good" or "excellent."

"This suggests that academic hospitals should focus on improving the ability of patients to understand the names and roles of their inpatient physicians," the authors conclude.

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